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What Does An Equipment Operator Do?

Equipment operators are employees who are assigned to work on specific company equipment. They are skilled workers trained to handle all aspects of the particular equipment, from basic operating to repairing. They use the equipment and ensure that safety standards are being followed. Aside from managing the equipment, they are also in charge of repairs and maintenance. They are responsible for ensuring that the machine works properly, troubleshooting if there are challenges encountered, and repairing any problems. Equipment operators are reliable, trustworthy, and attentive.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real equipment operator resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Maintain equipment, assist the supervisor in daily operations, direct frac equipment operator assistants.
  • Confine space attendant, flagger, drive flat bed pickup for transporting materials w/in plant.
  • Operate and maintain various types of Frac equipment during stages of pressure pumping on oil wells.
  • Perform daily JSA'S and keep up with performance sheets of each individual on the crew.
  • Maintain operator logs, JSA forms and records in accordance with company policies and safety regulations.
  • Drive any CDL require vehicle and operate all equipment in the oilfield for the extraction of oil.
  • DOT regulate position requiring drivers log and daily vehicle inspection duties along with monthly vehicle maintenance records.
  • Have driven trucks (no CDL currently) hauling hay, grain, water, equipment and fertilizer.
  • Operate bulldozer, track hoe, loader, backhoe, skid steer, to help prepare site for rebuilding of plant.
  • Perform operation of the orange peel grapple refuse crane, front end loader, bobcat, roll off truck and forklift.
Equipment Operator Traits
Physical strength
Physical strength refers to one's ability to lift, carry and move physical objects.
Unafraid of heights
People who are unafraid of heights have no problem operating machinery that lifts them far off the ground.
Mechanical skills
Mechanical skills refers to one's ability to work with specific machinery related to their industry.

Equipment Operator Overview

Perhaps the hardest question to answer when deciding on a career as an equipment operator is "should I become an equipment operator?" You might find this info to be helpful. When compared to other jobs, equipment operator careers are projected to have a growth rate described as "faster than average" at 10% from 2018 through 2028. This is in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What's more, is that the projected number of opportunities that are predicted to become available for a equipment operator by 2028 is 44,000.

On average, the equipment operator annual salary is $27,639 per year, which translates to $13.29 an hour. Generally speaking, equipment operators earn anywhere from $22,000 to $33,000 a year, which means that the top-earning equipment operators make $12,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

It's hard work to become an equipment operator, but even the most dedicated employees consider switching careers from time to time. Whether you're interested in a more challenging position or just looking for a fresh start, we've compiled extensive information on becoming a crew foreman, mechanical spreader operator, heavy machinery operator, and foreman/operator.

Equipment Operator Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 14% of Equipment Operators are proficient in Heavy Equipment, CDL, and Safety Rules. They’re also known for soft skills such as Physical strength, Unafraid of heights, and Mechanical skills.

We break down the percentage of Equipment Operators that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Heavy Equipment, 14%

    Coordinated utility service providers according to project schedules & operated various pieces of heavy equipment including hydraulic crane & motor grader.

  • CDL, 9%

    Experienced in driving any vehicle that requires a Class A or B commercial driver s license (CDL) to operate.

  • Safety Rules, 5%

    Followed all safety rules, operating instructions, maintenance instructions, technical instructions, procedure manuals and specifications.

  • Weather Conditions, 5%

    Communicate with Crew Effectively- Ability to work in adverse weather conditions and comply with Industry Standard Safety Regulations

  • Backhoe, 5%

    Operate Cat, backhoe, front end loader, forklift, lowboy, dump truck, water truck, and excavator Mechanic

  • Hand Tools, 4%

    Maintained state-owned right-away buildings and travel-way using various hand tools and heavy equipment.

Some of the skills we found on equipment operator resumes included "heavy equipment," "cdl," and "safety rules." We have detailed the most important equipment operator responsibilities below.

  • Physical strength can be considered to be the most important personality trait for an equipment operator to have. According to a equipment operator resume, "construction equipment operators may be required to lift more than 50 pounds as part of their duties." Equipment operators are able to use physical strength in the following example we gathered from a resume: "obtained my cdl class b skills used physical strength. "
  • Another trait important for fulfilling equipment operator duties is unafraid of heights. According to a equipment operator resume, "construction equipment operators may work at great heights." Here's an example of how equipment operators are able to utilize unafraid of heights: "completed intensive on-the-job training in hazmat and acquired certification for appropriate handling of hazardous materials. "
  • Mechanical skills is also an important skill for equipment operators to have. This example of how equipment operators use this skill comes from a equipment operator resume, "construction equipment operators often perform basic maintenance on the equipment they operate" Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "perform routine maintenance and minor mechanical adjustments and repairs of motor equipment operated. "
  • See the full list of equipment operator skills.

    Those equipment operators who do attend college, typically earn either a business degree or a general studies degree. Less commonly earned degrees for equipment operators include a automotive technology degree or a criminal justice degree.

    Once you've obtained the level of education you're comfortable with, you might start applying to companies to become an equipment operator. We've found that most equipment operator resumes include experience from Walmart, CRH America, Inc., and Pike. Of recent, Walmart had 107 positions open for equipment operators. Meanwhile, there are 69 job openings at CRH America, Inc. and 37 at Pike.

    If you're interested in companies where equipment operators make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at City of Colorado Springs, Wayfair, and Lakeview Village. We found that at City of Colorado Springs, the average equipment operator salary is $42,938. Whereas at Wayfair, equipment operators earn roughly $39,109. And at Lakeview Village, they make an average salary of $36,701.

    View more details on equipment operator salaries across the United States.

    The industries that equipment operators fulfill the most roles in are the construction and retail industries. But the highest equipment operator annual salary is in the government industry, averaging $30,344. In the manufacturing industry they make $29,063 and average about $29,002 in the construction industry. In conclusion, equipment operators who work in the government industry earn a 24.0% higher salary than equipment operators in the energy industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious equipment operators are:

      What Crew Foremans Do

      A crew foreman coordinates the daily activities in a construction site to ensure that operations adhere to deadlines, budgets, and quality standards. They serve as the point of contact for supervisors, clients, and construction workers. They are also in charge of managing construction schedules, conducting assessments and evaluations, hiring staff, training staff, monitoring supplies, and ordering materials. Additionally, they must enforce safety regulations.

      We looked at the average equipment operator annual salary and compared it with the average of a crew foreman. Generally speaking, crew foremen receive $16,582 higher pay than equipment operators per year.

      Even though equipment operators and crew foremen have vast differences in their careers, a few of the skills required to do both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require heavy equipment, cdl, and safety rules in the day-to-day roles.

      These skill sets are where the common ground ends though. An equipment operator responsibility is more likely to require skills like "weather conditions," "sand," "forklifts," and "straight truck." Whereas a crew foreman requires skills like "construction crews," "bucket truck," "company vehicle," and "layout." Just by understanding these different skills you can see how different these careers are.

      Crew foremen receive the highest salaries in the energy industry coming in with an average yearly salary of $48,904. But equipment operators are paid more in the government industry with an average salary of $30,344.

      Crew foremen tend to reach similar levels of education than equipment operators. In fact, crew foremen are 0.1% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.3% more likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Mechanical Spreader Operator?

      A mechanical spreader operators manage and operate all equipment in various industries where they perform their jobs. The operators work as general mechanics in building HVAC, general building maintenance, and pump station operations. They test electro-mechanical subsystems for operational reliability and circuit integrity. Their job includes promoting quality assurance and performance improvement programs within the organization. Also, they perform an energy audit to improve the efficiency of HVAC energy.

      Now we're going to look at the mechanical spreader operator profession. On average, mechanical spreader operators earn a $15,083 higher salary than equipment operators a year.

      A similarity between the two careers of equipment operators and mechanical spreader operators are a few of the skills associated with both roles. We used resumes from both professions to find that both use skills like "heavy equipment," "cdl," and "safety rules. "

      But both careers also use different skills, according to real equipment operator resumes. While equipment operator responsibilities can utilize skills like "weather conditions," "backhoe," "sand," and "company policies," some mechanical spreader operators use skills like "electrical systems," "facility," "emergency," and "plant equipment."

      On average, mechanical spreader operators earn a higher salary than equipment operators. There are industries that support higher salaries in each profession respectively. Interestingly enough, mechanical spreader operators earn the most pay in the health care industry with an average salary of $50,975. Whereas, equipment operators have higher paychecks in the government industry where they earn an average of $30,344.

      On the topic of education, mechanical spreader operators earn similar levels of education than equipment operators. In general, they're 0.6% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.3% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      How a Heavy Machinery Operator Compares

      The heavy machinery operator profession generally makes a lower amount of money when compared to the average salary of equipment operators. The difference in salaries is heavy machinery operators making $2,599 lower than equipment operators.

      By looking over several equipment operators and heavy machinery operators resumes, we found that both roles utilize similar skills, such as "heavy equipment," "cdl," and "safety rules." But beyond that the careers look very different.

      As mentioned, these two careers differ between other skills that are required for performing the work exceedingly well. For example, gathering from equipment operators resumes, they are more likely to have skills like "weather conditions," "hand tools," "sand," and "company policies." But a heavy machinery operator might have skills like "job sites," "inspect machines," "assembly line," and "machine parts."

      Heavy machinery operators make a very good living in the automotive industry with an average annual salary of $41,799. Whereas equipment operators are paid the highest salary in the government industry with the average being $30,344.

      When it comes to education, heavy machinery operators tend to earn similar education levels than equipment operators. In fact, they're 0.7% less likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 0.2% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of a Foreman/Operator

      Foreman/operators tend to earn a higher pay than equipment operators by about $15,525 per year.

      While both equipment operators and foreman/operators complete day-to-day tasks using similar skills like heavy equipment, cdl, and safety rules, the two careers also vary in other skills.

      Each job requires different skills like "weather conditions," "hand tools," "sand," and "osha," which might show up on an equipment operator resume. Whereas foreman/operator might include skills like "daily operations," "emergency," "underground facilities," and "construction crews."

      The average resume of foreman/operators showed that they earn similar levels of education to equipment operators. So much so that the likelihood of them earning a Master's Degree is 1.0% more. Additionally, they're more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree by 0.1%.